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In an era when physical format media – i.e. the Compact Disc, DVD and, to an amazingly lesser extent, the LP vinyl record – is being quickly replaced by downloadable, disposable-esque files in MP3 form, it seems silly to be talking about any kind of “tape.” After all, VHS has been dead and buried for some time now and the audio cassette met a similar fate after the popularity of CDs had exploded. And classic formats like reel-to-reel? Well, does anyone of the millennium generation even KNOW what a reel-to-reel tape is?
Still, in the professional video realm a format known as Linear Tape-Open, or LTO, continues to represent an open-format tape storage technology, the term “open-format” referring to the fact that users have access to multiple sources of media products that are compatible.
Originally conceived by Hewlett-Packard (HP), International Business Machines (IBM) and Certance (now known as Quantum), LTO technology has come to be known as the LTO Ultrium format – or simply LTO Ultrium. The technology itself has evolved through several generations, the latest of which is Generation 6 that became available in late 2012 and that provides data storage capacity of up to 2.5 terabytes (TB) and a maximum transfer rate of 160 megabytes-per-second (MB/s).
Advancements in LTO tech have historically encompassed several factors, including the materials from which the actual tape is manufactured, the digital encoding and compression schemes utilized, the physical speed with which the tape moves through the drive, the length of tape in each cartridge and the physical density of data bits on the tape.
Now…you may be asking, “But what does this have to do with video?” and “Why are we even discussing tape-based formats in the year 2015?” The real kicker here is that many film, video and broadcast professionals – like us here at Multiverse Media Group – are experiencing phenomenal growth of unstructured data in their production and post-production environments. The challenges faced when talking about long-term archival storage of digital assets essentially revolve around one element: How to backup, archive, search, find, restore and directly access content in the most cost-effective way.
Tape, while the oldest method of storing electronic data, is extremely reliable when taken care of. With LTO, instead of spinning drives, solid state drives or flash memory drives, tape is used with its own file system known as LTFS (Linear Tape File System). Digital tape storage is a viable and cost-effective alternative to hard drives for the long-term storage of video productions and other digital content when hundreds of terabytes are involved; this – along with the fact that the technology is stable, long-standing and requires no significant learning curve to understand or use – is why many production houses like MGMG are utilizing Linear Tape-Open.
There’s no arguing the fact that digital technologies have changed the landscape of shooting video forever – the absence of tape, consequently, has yielded the ability to manipulate the video directly through the use of computer software schemes. But through the advent of LTO, media companies aren’t just using the tech for archives anymore…from utilizing tape for delivery, conform, cloud storage and more to storing ever-growing mountains of digital content for the long haul, LTO tapes have become a de facto standard for media.
Widespread adoption of the LTFS format means LTO tape can behave more like a disk drive in digital media workflows – and that’s good news for companies dedicated to providing flexible and fool-proof ways to use LTO tape throughout the production and post-production process.
But there’s still so much more…
Dim the Lights and Pass the Popcorn: LTO Tape Even Goes to the Multiplex
The media and entertainment industry has been utilizing LTFS tape for video archiving due to its ability to house storage-hungry video files. Further, standard LTO tape backup has increasingly found a home in Hollywood as well as with companies in other industries that work with – and need to project massive amounts of – digital video. The growing popularity of LTO among video producers is specifically and directly related to the aforementioned Linear Tape File System technology, which has introduced a key change by allowing a standard file system-view of the data…ultimately yielding faster access. Couple this breakthrough with the lower cost-per-byte of tape, and LTFS moves to the forefront for storing films, video and media.
LTFS excels at meeting the challenge presented by video storage by offering:
- Cost-effective storage based on tape
- Fast file or video retrieval via a disk-like file structure
- Open standards for data compatibility across manufacturers
- Core data compatibility across proprietary applications
Leaving it to the Pros: Multiverse’s LTO Tape Backup & Archive Service
When it comes to LTO tape backup and all related platforms, Multiverse Media Group has what it takes to ensure our clients’ long-term success. We offer LTO tape backup and archival services for video productions, media and data rich applications while ensuring the avoidance of high cost of ownership of typical LTO tape backup drives. You know what’s even better? Our clients still reap the benefits of long-term storage requirements.
Our straightforward ordering process begins with filling out an LTO archive/backup order form, which involves knowing how much media you’re backing up, the number of copies desired, the fashion in which you want your LTO tape backups named and organized and what LTO tape format you plan to use (LTFS or “Tar”). From there:
1. You Send Us Your Media – Forward a copy of the media you want archived and keep a copy until the process is completed; if you don’t have an additional drive, we can send you a loaner drive to transfer your media on. It’s also important that your media is organized in the way you want it on LTO tape.
2. We Verify Your Media – Multiverse ensures that your media is safe and intact, per your order form.
3. We Make Your LTO Tape – Using our enterprise LTO tape archives solution from Cache-a, we start running your tape(s) using LTO-5 tapes by default with LTFS format unless otherwise specified.
4. We Present Your Deliverables – You’ll have your hard drive returned, unless it was one of ours you utilized, in addition to your LTO tape(s) labeled and formatted to your specs, a CSV catalog of the backup that lists all the files that were backed up and final instructions regarding what to do if you ever need to recover data from your LTO archive.
5. You Make Final Payment – Final payment is charged before deliverables are sent out; if you ordered one to four tapes using our form, you’re payment is already complete. If you had a loaner drive, we refund your security deposit at this point as well.
6. We Ship Back to You – Through either UPS or FedEx priority shipping, we ensure your media is as safe as can be.